Michael D’Antoni at the Downtown Urban Arts
“Words Matter’ Poetry Slam
A Poetry Slam or Slam Poetry if you will, by definition is competitive art whereby the venue is the verbal performance of original poetry. This type of competition from all indications began in Chicago around 1986. Poetry Slams differ from more traditional poetry readings in that they stress performance as well as writing. Additionally, many like tonight’s slam adopt specific themes. This evenings subject matter encouraged poets to discuss contemporary social issues’ and socially conscious people.
However, mind you that the caveat is that performers and poets alike need to win over their audience, as judges vote favorably for the performance and piece that gets the biggest and loudest audience response. Audience approval is essential.
Poetry Slams are a particularly relaxed art form for they are most engaging as they surf a myriad of issues and topics, virtually minute by minute hence making them very entertaining and immediately gratifying.
All the while allowing audience members to voice their opinions almost immediately!
The standing room only space known as the “Nuyorican Poets Cafe” was charming, welcoming and a most comfortable. Aptly named, the word “Nuyorican” is a portmanteau of the designations “New York” and “Puerto Rican”. A melding of two languages and cultures. Appropriately, this evening was nothing less then just that, a very smooth and pleasant melding of different ideas, styles, formats and talents. The inherent juxtaposition of the cafes name versus the venues platform was well apparent to some if not subliminally appreciated by all.
Headlining this evenings events was Reg E. Gaines the acclaimed Tony & Grammy nominated lyricist and playwright of “Bring in ‘Da Noise Bring in ‘Da Funk” (which won 4 Tonys) who was the special guest host for this evenings reading. He artfully kicked off the slam.
The evening was billed as a “Words Matter” platform, which in life is very true. For once the words cross our lips and we actually give life to them, we own them (with all its positive and/or negative repercussions that may follow).
Hence, to use words in a positive way to (as the producers put it) repair, reform & transform is a lesson we all could be re-introduced at times.
Fresh, innovative and thought provoking was tonight’s slam and nothing less then splendid. An evening of peaceful consciousness in this often cold and lonely asphalt jungle known as New York City.